Friday, July 13, 2007

What is Anglicanism?

The Right Reverend Henry Orombi, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda answers.


Few would deny that the Anglican Communion is in crisis. The nature of that crisis, however, remains a question. Is it about sexuality? Is it a crisis of authority—who has it and who doesn’t? Have Anglicans lost their commitment to the via media, epitomized by the Elizabethan Settlement, which somehow declared a truce between Puritan and Catholic sentiments in the Church of England? Is it a crisis of globalization? A crisis of identity?

I have the privilege of serving as archbishop of the Church of Uganda, providing spiritual leadership and oversight to more than nine million Anglicans. Uganda is second only to Nigeria as the largest Anglican province in the world, and most of our members are fiercely loyal to their global communion. But however we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

The preface to the Book of Common Prayer states, “It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline.”

And yet, despite this clear distinction, contemporary Anglicans are in danger of confusing doctrine and discipline. For four hundred years Anglicanism represented both the theological convictions of the English Reformation and the culture of the Christian Church in Britain. The sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Anglican divines gave voice to both: English Reformation theology (doctrine) and British culture (discipline). The Anglican churches around the world, however, have ended the assumption that Anglican belief and practice must be clothed in historic British culture.


Matthew J. Perkins said...

I loved this. It is the most encouraging thing I've read in a long time.

Mike said...

I just read the whole thing. I'd like to leave this article around the Episcopal diocese I grew up in, maybe at my parents' church. What a great defense of orthodox Anglicanism.

Brandon F said...

Archbishop Orombi makes some very good points there. As churches in most Western countries fall into moral and theological relativism, it will be those younger churches in the Anglican Communion which will preserve orthodoxy.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post Fr. Peter.


Alice C. Linsley said...

A terrific piece and ity helps us understand what drives the African bishops.